The conference, organized by the IAEA in cooperation with the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency, will assess progress made in the safe and efficient management of spent fuel.
There are more than 400 nuclear power reactors in operation in the world today. At many of them spent fuel is being stored for longer periods and in larger quantities than originally planned because steps towards reprocessing or disposal are being delayed.
The disposal of radioactive waste remains one of the major obstacles to public support for nuclear power.
Many countries are having to address the need to expand storage capacity at reactor sites or centralized locations and extend storage periods for spent fuel.
The situation is further complicated by trends toward higher initial enrichment and higher fuel burn up as well as evolving security considerations. Emerging international initiatives, such as the US Global Nuclear Energy Partnership, multi-national approaches to spent fuel management, nuclear safety and spent fuel storage technologies are addressing these challenges and will be discussed at the conference.
The IAEA has fostered international co-operation in the spent fuel management area since it was established in 1957. A major step was taken in 2001 when the "Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management" entered into force. This Convention applies to the safety of spent fuel and radioactive waste resulting from civilian uses.